I was just telling someone that she could always feel good about reading my blog because it's "just real life." I'm not fond of sugar-coating, and my emotional baggage is too full of guilt to knowingly attempt to foist it on someone else. I don't think I have the market cornered on anything fabulous, and I'm mostly just bumbling along, trying to figure out how to raise my kids with a measure of joy...and without the house imploding by 5:00 p.m.
But as I perused my recent blog posts with the eye of a newcomer, I thought, "Woah. This is a pretty great life here. The kids are reading and biking and learning about science and the value of work. Everyone is smiling and wearing clean clothes. The baby is healthy and the husband can do anything and the three-year-old is miraculously getting the medical treatment he needs. This family's life IS perfect."
And of course I agree; I am certainly grateful for all the good that's going on around here. Perhaps I'm not grateful enough. It's possible that a more fervent counting of blessings would scrape me off the pavement on the hard days (and they're all hard days). Every night this week I have told Garry, "I cannot do this ONE MORE DAY." And I'm serious. As I am entering the eighth month of pregnancy I have officially donned my Crazy Lady hat, where everything is dramatic and nothing makes sense and life in general is overwhelming.
Consider for a moment what I have to work with.
Today I committed a cardinal sin. I put Lexi in her car seat and buckled the straps. GASP! This is completely, utterly unacceptable to a certain two-year-old, and my nefarious deed spawned ten minutes of the most ear-piercing shrieks you can imagine. I suppose it wouldn't have been so terrible had I not been subjected to the same high-pitched wailing while navigating the aisles of Target with four children just ten minutes prior. The boys orbited the cart like Saturn's moons, each of them pinging off the end caps for the sheer joy of hearing the metal clang against their shoes. Displays of sparkly toys, sugary treats, and commercialized t-shirts periodically pulled them out of orbit, requiring me to herd them along or sometimes use powerful magnetic forces (read: the threat of lost privileges) just to bring them back to the cart's general vicinity. Little Miss Screamy just wanted to be another orbiting moon, not a captive of the cart, and she registered her objection in decibels.
Head-turning public displays aren't this family's only forte, however. The fireworks fly in the comfort of our own home, too. The seven-year-old is currently fond of the Major Meltdown, which can be prompted by just about anything. Today his fits were prompted by my choice of writing assignment, the comfort of his underwear, the size of his baseball pants, the fact that we did not dine at a restaurant for lunch, the injustice of an unequal distribution of strawberries, and the need to repeat hand washing after doing a poor job. I'm starting to wonder if his hormones are out of whack like mine; we tend to fly off the handle with about the same frequency, but just for different reasons. Maybe I should cut him some slack.
The three-year-old banged his head on the kitchen table during breakfast. I didn't witness the event, but it left a nasty mark. And then, while he was climbing out of the back seat of the van this afternoon, he caught his foot in a seat belt, fell three feet, and face-planted on the garage floor. After nearly passing out (his reaction to pain), he had a giant knot on his forehead, which he steadfastly refused to allow me to treat with ice. This happened after he was prematurely awakened from a much-needed nap (he was up at 6 a.m.) and could not be consoled. Did he really spend half the day crying? I kind of think he did. He spent the other half changing his clothes. His third and final outfit was an electric green swimming suit with blue sharks on it, paired with an inside-out-and-backwards orange t-shirt with a wide white stripe on the chest. He wore this getup to Target AND the baseball game. At the game he also proudly wore a Toy Story Band-Aid on his forehead. Three cheers, my son!
A description of the day would not be complete without the antics of Mr. Nine, whose persistence in defying directions is mind-boggling. When I prompt, "Sit up and curve your fingers, Zach," he arches his back, sticks out his elbows, and flattens his fingers onto the piano keys. Every time he does this, I congratulate myself on saving these battles until now. I knew this is how piano lessons would be, and here we are. How does a parent combat such a strong will? I'm laughing as I think of the possibilities. I'm also groaning at the way this boy takes advantage of me, sucks on his white shirt collar while eating something chocolate, pokes holes in our window screens, never EVER flushes the toilet, and belches in front of my friends.
See? It's just real life. It's a good life...but boy howdy, I'm exhausted.